Lawyer talking to his client about his case, telling him why it is important to remain silent.

The Importance of Keeping Quiet When You’ve Been Accused of a Crime

Remaining silent is one of the most important things a person can do following an arrest. With the exception of basic identifying information, an arrestee is legally entitled to refrain from answering a police officer’s questions. Almost any information that an arrestee provides to a police officer may be used by the prosecuting attorney at trial. Thus, there are very few instances in which an arrestee should provide the police with information about the crime or crimes with which he or she has been accused. Below is some additional information regarding the right to remain silent in New York and under federal law. 

Remaining silent is a constitutional right 

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from being forced to give self-incriminating testimony. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a police officer must stop questioning a suspect as soon as he or she asserts the right to counsel. However, the Supreme Court has also held that a suspect must affirmatively invoke his or her right to remain silent.

The Fifth Amendment also bars compelled testimony in a criminal case against oneself. And the right to silence is among the Miranda rights that a police officer is required to recite to a suspect during or after an arrest. In other words, it’s not only a good idea for criminal suspects to keep quiet, but it’s also actually a well-established right. Similar rights are protected under the New York State Constitution. 

Remaining silent during interrogations or police interviews 

As a general rule, no one has to talk to the police about the facts of an investigation. However, this area of the law is complicated, and even some non-verbal forms of communication can, under certain circumstances, be incriminating. As noted above, the police are required to give Miranda warnings prior to interrogating a suspect, and they must immediately cease their interrogation once a suspect has invoked his or her right to an attorney. Any statements made after a suspect has invoked this right are generally inadmissible in court. However, this only applies after the police have advised a suspect of his or her Miranda rights, which they are only required to do after placing a suspect under arrest. Statements made while not in custody, may not receive Miranda/fifth amendment privileges.

Queens criminal defense attorney

If you have been arrested or accused of a crime of any kind, you must act quickly to protect your rights. In almost all circumstances, consulting with an attorney is your best defense prior to making a statement, even if you are not charged with a crime. Depending on your charges, a conviction can result in a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines. In addition, a criminal record can affect your ability to secure employment and housing. Therefore, if you have been charged with a crime, you need experienced legal counsel on your side. At Heiferman and Associates, PLLC, we provide aggressive legal representation to clients throughout New York City, Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island and parts of New Jersey. Backed by extensive experience and working knowledge of New York Penal Law, we are committed to ensuring that you receive the most effective defense possible. Please contact us as soon as possible for a consultation.